Anderson, Milone take 'next step' in rotation battle

Starters looking to earn spot in crowded mix

Anderson, Milone take 'next step' in rotation battle

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Brewers' crowded competition for the Opening Day rotation shows no signs of thinning yet. Chase Anderson and Tommy Milone both had solid outings in Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Rockies, keeping them in a seven-man mix battling for five spots. With an abundance of viable arms, manager Craig Counsell could get creative, rather than go the traditional route.

Anderson got the start and threw four innings of one-run ball. He allowed four hits and four walks, while striking out one, throwing 59 pitches and lowering his Cactus League ERA to 2.70.

"I wish I didn't walk four guys," Anderson said. "That's not my game. I wiggled around it. My body feels good, and that's the most important thing right now. I'll keep at it, and keep competing for a spot."

Six of the seven starters in the mix made at least 19 starts for the Brewers last season. Anderson (30 starts) hopes to fill one of the spots, and join Junior Guerra (20) and Zach Davies (28), who Counsell has already said will be part of the rotation. Jimmy Nelson (32) and Wily Peralta (23) have both been impressive with limited starts this spring, and Matt Garza (19) makes his fourth start on Thursday. Milone made 12 starts for the Twins in 2016.

Anderson finished '16 strong, going 5-1 with a 2.56 ERA over his last 12 starts of the season, but he doesn't take a rotation spot for granted.

"I've always been the kind of guy that's had to compete for a spot, and I like that," Anderson said. "I'll always be that kind of guy. It's the way I was raised. I think competition makes you better, and makes the team better."

Instead of obsessing about his standing in the roster battle, Anderson is focusing on his spring work, isolating different aspects of his game and honing them in each start.

"I was working on my fastball, throwing in to righties, up and in," Anderson said of Wednesday's outing. "That's probably why I walked so many guys, because I was working on going up in the zone on them."

Before the game, Counsell said Anderson was "in a good place," and the 29-year-old right-hander's performance didn't change his manager's perception.

"Chase was really efficient the first three innings," Counsell said. "He had to battle through the fourth inning, but he got a double-play ball in a big spot."

Milone pitched the sixth and seventh, giving up a run on three hits, while striking out one.

"Tommy got better as he was out there," Counsell said. "As he got more pitches under his belt, he started getting a feel for his changeup and got some outs with it.

"Both guys kind of took the next step."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.